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Emergencies or Unforeseen Circumstances

Unforeseen circumstances, such as natural catastrophes (hurricanes, wildfires, severe weather, etc.), national emergencies (public health emergencies), severe illness, or conflicts abroad, can sometimes affect the processing of your USCIS application, petition, or immigration request.

USCIS has discretion to take the below measures on a case-by-case basis upon request, if you have been affected by an unforeseen circumstance.

You can request assistance by calling the USCIS Contact Center at 800-375-5283. In order to request an expedite through the Contact Center, you must have already filed a benefit request and have a USCIS receipt number.

When you request help, you will need to explain how the impact of an unforeseen circumstance (domestic or international) created a need for the requested assistance. For example, if you lost all evidence of status or employment authorization, include an explanation in your description and a copy of a police report, insurance claim, or other report, if available, to support your request.

Always keep your address up-to-date with USCIS to ensure you receive all correspondence and benefits from us in a timely manner and avoid possible delays related to your case. To update your address with USCIS, visit How to Change Your Address page of USCIS.gov. Note that changing your address with the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) will not change your address with USCIS. Please contact USPS if you need to temporarily hold or forward your mail due to unforeseen circumstances or a temporary relocation.

Specific Requests

Expedited Processing

If you need USCIS to consider your request for a service or benefit more quickly, you may make that request when filing or after you file. In order to request an expedite through the Contact Center, you must have already filed a benefit request and have a receipt number. Read more about expedited processing on our website.

Extensions and Changes

You may request an extension of stay or change of status using Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, or in the case of certain employment-based classifications, Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker. If an unforeseen circumstance prevented your planned and timely departure, you may extend or change your status and provide an explanation for your failure to depart.

If you do not apply for the extension or change of status before your authorized period of admission expires, USCIS may excuse the delay if it was due to extraordinary circumstances beyond your control.

Fee Waivers

If you are unable to pay the fee for a USCIS service or benefit, you may request a fee waiver for certain forms by filing Form I-912, Request for Fee Waiver.

Document Replacement

You may also request expedited processing for the replacement of lost or damaged immigration documents, such as your Green Card, your Employment Authorization Document (EAD), or Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record.

If your documents were lost, stolen, or damaged, and you need proof of employment eligibility, see the list of Form I-9 acceptable documents and receipts for other ways to complete Form I-9. Visit I-9 Central for more information.

To replace a/n…You must file a…
Green CardForm I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Residence Card, or request interim evidence of permanent residence stamp (I-551 stamp) from a USCIS Field Office.You may file Form I-90 online.
Form I-94Form I-102, Application for Replacement/Initial Nonimmigrant Arrival-Departure Document
Employment Authorization DocumentForm I-765, Application for Employment Authorization

Employment Authorization

Employees

If your documents were lost, stolen, or damaged, see the list of Form I-9 acceptable documents and receipts for more information on other ways to complete Form I-9. Visit I-9 Central for more information.

To replace an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), you must file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. You may also request expedited processing for the replacement of a lost or damaged EAD.

Employers

All requirements for Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, completion and E- Verify remain in place. E-Verify remains available to employers affected by unforeseen circumstances, both directly through the E-Verify web portal and E-Verify employer agents. If you have any questions or issues about using E-Verify from a remote location, please contact E-Verify Support at 888-464-4218 (for employers) or 888-897-7781 (for employees).

Severe Economic Hardship to F-1 Students Caused by Unforeseen Circumstances

If you experience severe economic hardship because of unforeseen circumstances beyond your control, you may request employment authorization to work off-campus (if you meet certain regulatory requirements). See 8 CFR 214.2(f)(9). Examples of unforeseen circumstances include (but are not limited to):

  • Loss of financial aid or on-campus employment (through no fault of your own);
  • Substantial fluctuations in currency value or exchange rate;
  • Inordinate increases in tuition or living costs;
  • Unexpected changes in the financial condition of your source of support;
  • Medical bills; and
  • Other substantial and unexpected expenses.

To apply, you must submit Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, along with a copy of your Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status, and any other supporting materials to USCIS.

Your Form I-20 must include the employment page completed by your Designated School Official, certifying your eligibility for off-campus employment due to severe economic hardship caused by unforeseen circumstances beyond your control.

If your request is approved, you may be able to work off-campus in one-year intervals up to the expected date of completion of your current course of study. See 8 CFR 214.2(f)(9)(ii).

Special Student Relief

Special Student Relief (SSR) is the suspension of certain regulatory requirements by the secretary of Homeland Security for F‑1 students from parts of the world that are experiencing emergent circumstances. Examples of emergent circumstances include natural catastrophe, war and military conflicts, and national or international financial crises. DHS designates SSR by publication of a Federal Register notice, which provides the start and end dates of the suspension of those requirements, which may include any or all requirements for on-campus or off-campus employment. A list of active SSR notices is available on the ICE Student and Exchange Visitor Program What’s New webpage.

You may be eligible to apply for off-campus employment authorization if you:

  • Are the citizen of a country specified in a Federal Register notice;
  • Have been lawfully present in the United States for the period indicated in the Federal Register notice;
  • Have reported on time to your Designated School Official and been enrolled in a Student and Exchange Visitor Program-certified school since the unforeseen circumstance;
  • Are currently maintaining F-1 status; and
  • Experiencing severe economic hardship.

To apply, you must submit Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, along with a copy of your Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status, and any other supporting materials to USCIS.

Failure to Appear for an Interview or to Respond to a Request for Evidence

If you did not appear for a scheduled interview or appointment, or did not submit evidence or respond to a notice or request in a timely manner for reasons directly tied to an unforeseen circumstance, you may show how the disrupting event affected your ability to appear for an interview or submit documents as required.

Visit our Office Closings page to determine whether an office is open and to learn about rescheduling appointments. In particular, if your appointment was affected by the unforeseen circumstance, you can reschedule your appointment online or by calling the USCIS Contact Center at 800-375-5283.

On June 28, USCIS announced a new self-service tool allowing benefit requestors, and their attorneys and accredited representatives, to reschedule most biometric services appointments before the date of the appointment. With this new tool, those individuals who have or create a USCIS online account can reschedule most requests for biometric services appointments without having to call the Contact Center. The new tool, however, cannot be used to reschedule an appointment that already has been rescheduled two or more times, within 12 hours, or that has already passed.

Flexibility for Visa Waiver Entrants (extend stay)

Visa Waiver Program (VWP) entrants are generally not eligible to extend their stay or change status. However, under current regulations, if an emergency prevents the departure of a VWP entrant, USCIS in its discretion may grant up to 30 days to allow for satisfactory departure. Please see 8 CFR 217.3(a). For those VWP entrants already granted satisfactory departure and unable to depart within this 30-day period because of emergency related issues, USCIS has the authority to temporarily provide additional 30-day periods of satisfactory departure. To request satisfactory departure from USCIS, a VWP entrant should call the USCIS Contact Center.

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